City Strengthens Property Standards By-Law

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Al's Pub, Jamestown, June 1, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

During last week’s city council meeting, councillors gave the property standards’ by-law a much needed and long awaited update.

The original 2012 by-law was outdated and the new by-law gives enforcement officers more power when it comes to working with abandoned and vacant properties in the city.

Sections 7 and 8 of the old by-law were completely re-written and other parts were tidied up throughout.

During the meeting, Councillor Luke Dufour asked for some clarification on what this means to the everyday citizen. He was answered by City Solicitor, Jeffery King, who did a lot of the work on the new by-law.

“Essentially what this tool does is equips our by-law enforcement officers with the ability to write orders on a moment’s notice and allowing them to basically demand that the order comply with anything that they feel is necessary to secure the property,” said King. “So it could be as straightforward as boarding up the property, potentially fencing the property, moving up to such things as having security posted 24/7 around the property and ultimately, they can look at an order that would seek that the building itself be demolished.”

The power to do all this comes from the Municipal Act of Ontario. The act also allows for cost reimbursement to the City for any expenses put towards enforcing this act through adding the cost to property taxes.

“Those taxes aren’t limited, as they are set out in the building code, to the property itself.  The language is there that expands it to register those taxes against other properties that are owned within the city of Sault Ste. Marie,” said King. “So that does expand the tool and the reach to collect upon any of those orders that are set up.”

It was also realized these new enforcement tools may come with more cost to the City in the form of legal and by-law manpower. The Mayor noted, in a follow-up with SaultOnline, those may need to be looked at come budget time.

If you have any buildings you think by-law needs to look into you can reach them at [email protected] or 705-759-5410.

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